Demi Moore Discusses The ‘Vulnerability’ Required For Full Frontal Nudity With Margaret Qualley In ‘The Substance’


Demi Moore’s new film, the feminist body horror “The Substance,” features several scenes of full nudity. At the Cannes Film Festival press conference on Monday, the 61-year-old actor described the experience as “vulnerable.”

“Going into it, it was really spelled out — the level of vulnerability and rawness that was really required to tell the story,” Moore said. “And it was a very vulnerable experience and just required a lot of sensitivity and a lot of conversation about what we were trying to accomplish.”

In the film directed by Coralie Fargeat, Moore plays a fading celebrity who uses a black market drug named “The Substance,” which creates a younger, improved version of herself, portrayed by Margaret Qualley.

Moore’s character must share her space with this new entity and spend part of her time in a dormant state to allow the other to thrive. In an early scene when Qualley’s character is “birthed,” Moore’s character spends time examining her own nude body before using the drug. When Qualley emerges, she also admires her new, youthful body. These scenes feature stark, full-frontal nudity for both actresses.

Moore credited Qualley, who was absent from the press conference due to another filming commitment, with helping her feel comfortable on set.

As the film progresses, Moore’s character becomes increasingly disfigured due to the harm inflicted by her other half, Qualley. By the film’s final act, Moore’s appearance is reminiscent of Anjelica Huston’s character in the 1990 film “The Witches” after her transformation into a grotesque figure.

Dennis Quaid also stars in the film, playing a character he described as an “a–hole” during the press conference. The late Ray Liotta was originally slated for this role before his passing in May 2022, and Quaid dedicated his performance to him.

“The Substance” received an 11-minute standing ovation at its Cannes premiere on Sunday night, the longest of the festival so far.

In an interview with Variety, French director Coralie Fargeat discussed the film’s feminist themes, stating that body horror is “the perfect vehicle to express the violence inherent in women’s issues.”

Amid the ongoing #MeToo movement, which continues to grow in France, Fargeat hopes her film will further highlight these issues. “It’s a small contribution to the larger struggle, and I hope my film will be one of many building blocks in the effort to address these issues. That was my intention in making it.”